Ian pissed off lawyers
This story could be spun into a tale of epic proportions; a ﬁrsthand account of how I took a conventional contest and transformed it into an international humanitarian movement to educate and empower impoverished children, but the truth is I just wanted to win a new computer.
Veer, the stock photography, illustration and typography company owned by Corbis, held a contest that summoned contenders to recreate their logo using everyday objects. The grand prize contained, amongst other design-centric swag, a shiny new MacBook Pro. Incidentally, I was stuck with a computer destined for the blue bin and barely enough money to fuel my noodle habit when they announced the contest.
Fearing my artistically-gifted competition, I ditched the crafts table for something different. I called a friend; a tattoo artist. As with most manly deals dealt, we worked out a special arrangement. A six-pack of PBR and a few Parliament Lights later we began filming My First Tattoo
After shooting wrapped I spent the night editing footage and posted the video online, but I knew it needed something else. It didn’t feel big enough. I decided to pair my entry with a few promises, so I created a blog called Help Spread Creativity
and spent the wee hours of the morning writing my vows.
Upon winning I swore to (1) donate a new computer to One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), (2) transfer the grand prize’s stock photography allowance to the OLPC and (3) auction my used computer with the proceeds going to, you guessed it, the OLPC. Essentially, the non-profit would receive at least two new computers, nearly $1400 in marketing materials and a little earned media. In return, I hoped they'd share my message with their 7,000+ Twitter followers.
Twitter was the perch and people were sprinkling my seeds, but the OLPC was the true lynchpin. That’s because, in true democratic fashion, the winner of the contest would be decided by voter consensus. But things got interesting way before that.
The video had been online less than a day before it landed on AdFreak's radar. They quickly penned a tisk-Veer-shouldn’t-be-crowdsourcing-tisk article, which led to the AIGA calling Veer and Veer calling their lawyers.
I knew I had been buggered when Veer blanketed their mailing list to clarify the contest’s purpose and magnify the fine print. This boded poorly because, as I had learned early in elementary school, rarely did the class clown get the gold star. Too deep to stop now, so by the 36th hour I had written an article for TalentZoo.com entitled “If you want viral, let go
” and posted a Behind The Scenes
video which clarified my intentions and revealed the use of complicated special effects, which included Sharpies and a squirt bottle.
I had hoped they’d laugh the whole paying-for-legal-counsel thing off. After all, everyone loved the entry; even Veer’s employees were tweeting in my favor. The dust settled and there was no direct communication. By assumption, my entry was still in the running, so I was back to convincing bloggers to spread my gospel.
Sadly, when it came time to vote there were no ballots, nor was my name etched into an aluminum Apple. After checking the list of Veer’s top 100 entries (twice) it was clear my name wasn’t there. They did what any good Chinese government would do. They buried it. The bad press over the semantics of recreate
is a shame, because the good press could have been tenfold… or at least two.
The happy ending is that I got another story to tell, which isn't bad considering I got a week's worth of entertainment out of six beers and a pack of cigarettes.